People constantly compare kava and alcohol. Many people believe the kava myth that they are very closely related. However, there are several differences between kava and alcohol.
The differences range from how the two substances are created, prepared and consumed. Other differences include the effects after drinking them and addictive qualities.
Below, we discuss the differences between kava and alcohol in detail.
How They Began
Kava’s history begins in the South Pacific Islands. For over 3,000 years, it has been a part of the culture, used daily by some of the native islanders.
Kava was originally used before, during and after important ceremonies and rituals. It was used to welcome leaders from other villages. It was also used to celebrate weddings, funerals and at the start of important meetings.
Over time, kava’s use has modernized and is often consumed as a social drink.
Alcohol, or fermented grains and fruits, has been around for thousands of years also. In the beginning, its use was encouraged in both medicinal and recreational areas. In more recent years, however, people noticed alcohol could have a negative impact on a person’s life.
It was banned altogether in the 1920s. Although banned, it was still widely used by many people. Since the prohibition of alcohol ended, alcohol has remained a popular staple around the world.
How They are Prepared
Kava is taken directly from the root of the piper methysticum plant. Farmers dig the root and then pound the root into a powder. The powder is mixed with water and drank. Making kava is an uncomplicated process.
Alcohol is created by putting grains, fruits or vegetables through a fermentation process. This process converts sugars to a chemical called ethanol. Alcohol is also distilled to add flavor.
How They Taste
This is one of the biggest differences between kava and alcohol - the taste.
Many believe that kava has a muddy, earthen flavor. That makes sense considering you prepare kava shortly after digging it up from the ground. Other claim kava has a bitter taste. While not many people state kava tastes great, there are ways to flavor the drink or mix it with other drinks to improve its taste.
Alcohol has many tastes that can range from fruits to strong bitter flavoring. Alcohol is usually an acquired taste and can be based on genetics. Most people prefer one flavor over another. Because alcohol is a chemical made by man, it can be adapted for any flavor.
How They Are Consumed
Kava, once in powder form, is mixed with water, strained and then consumed directly from the bowl or cup holding the strained mixture. Kava also comes in supplement form. Because it is a natural plant, it has an expiration date that tells you when it is best for use.
Manufacturers store alcohol in bottles, kegs and cans. Individuals typically purchase wine, beer and whiskey at a store that has a variety of stored spirits. Alcohol can sit on a shelf in its liquid form for a prolonged period. This may be due to preservatives added to the alcohol.
People can consume both kava and alcohol by drinking it. However, kava has many more options for consumption than alcohol does.
Kava and alcohol are similar in that people can purchase them at bars that serve their drink of choice. Kava bars are becoming more and more popular today. They offer many choices for customers, and many people visit kava bars to socialize and unwind. Similar to kava bars, the same is true for drinking establishments that serve alcohol.
How Much is Consumed
Kava typically only requires one full drink of kava. The effects may last for several hours at a time. Even if you were to consume additional kava, the effects would be the same, unlike alcohol.
If you continue drinking alcohol after you initially have the happy buzz often associated with drinking a small amount of alcohol, you will notice different effects. The more alcohol you drink, the worse you think, feel and act.
How much alcohol you consume should be based on safe guidelines.
How They Affect You
The biggest difference between kava and alcohol is the way that affects you.
Kava’s effects are very calming and relaxing. Users state they notice tension easing and stressful thoughts fading away. They also report feeling happy and in a good mood, ready to socialize and offer good will towards others.
Not many people report any negative effects of kava. They do report having mental clarity no matter how much kava they drink.
Kava does not produce day after effects, meaning there is no "hangover". People claim they wake up the day after drinking kava feeling the same as they did before they drank kava.
Alcohol, on the other hand has more damaging effects. It alters the brain, disturbs judgment and thinking, hampers speech and other body movements. Alcohol clouds the mind and makes it hard for a person to make good decisions.
When substantial amounts are consumed in a brief period, it can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Alcohol has been associated with memory loss because of its effects on the hippocampus region in the brain. It dehydrates the body, which may be one of the reasons for hangovers the day after drinking.
A hangover can include anything from a mild headache to nausea and vomiting.
Kava has no known addictive qualities. People have been drinking kava for centuries and report they do not feel an overwhelming desire to use kava.
Even more, they report no withdrawal symptoms when they quit using kava.
Withdrawal symptoms felt by a regular drinker of alcohol can be severe. The body can react in a way that produces seizures. Because your body becomes dependent on alcohol, it is dangerous to try and quit using alcohol on your own.
An addict may experience shaking hands and the inability to eat due to the damage excessive alcohol use can do to the stomach, esophagus and the liver.
Long-term use of alcohol abuse can damage relationships between you and your family and friends. It can also cause a loss of job, legal problems and irreversible brain damage.
There are 15 million Americans suffering from alcohol addiction. Even worse, approximately 40 percent of all deaths related to car accidents involve alcohol.
As you can see, there are many more differences than similarities between kava and alcohol. For thousands of years, they have held different meanings for varying cultures. It is undeniable that kava is healthier, with greater benefits and no link to negative side effects or addiction.